Steelworkers on strike in Alabama stay strong

August 13, 2001

BY BRIAN TAYLOR 
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama–The strike by workers at the Meadowcraft plant here remains solid after four weeks on the picket line. As members of United Steelworkers of America (USWA) Local 8285 win broader layers to join the union, the bosses have launched a series of attacks against the strike.

Workers struck the plant June 30 after rejecting a concessionary contract that would cut $2 or more from the hourly wage of welding department workers. Under the bosses’ thinly masked “incentive” plan, welders at this lawn furniture plant would have to average 104 percent production in a workweek for an 88-cent raise. If they fall short, their hourly wage would drop to $7–8 an hour.

On July 21 workers held a mass rally and barbecue in front of the plant that drew more than 200 strikers and their supporters. “Can we do it? Can we do it? Yes we can! Yes we can!” was one of several chants that day.

A number of strikers less familiar with all the issues in the fight used the event as an opportunity to ask questions of union officials and others. An information sheet on the strike is being translated for workers whose first language is Spanish.

Company begins attacks 
Two-and-a-half weeks into the strike Meadowcraft managers passed out a letter to pickets slandering the union. It claims that the union officials would not sit down and negotiate, and attempts to prettify the company’s takeback contract.

“The letter is bull,” said Willie Hall, who has worked at Meadowcraft for 31 years. “They say the union has not gotten in touch with them. But we just don’t accept the contract. As far as their statement that not everyworker is in the union and voted against the contract–majority rules and the union rules. We are on strike.”

A few days later Zen Pearson, USWA Local 8285 president and a worker in the plant, drafted a response to the company’s lies. Pearson explained that a 55-cent raise over three years–held up as so great by the bosses–doesn’t even offset the rise in insurance costs in the company’s contract.

The company letter is “all about destroying our unity and solidarity.” The letter ends giving special thanks to “our MEXICAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS.” (Emphasis in original.)

Support grows for strike, union 
Strikers have won support from a substantial layer of toilers here in Birmingham. They have also gotten favorable television and news coverage. “Bell South workers brought us donuts, Ken’s Barbecue brought us a pan full of ham, and other locals have been bringing us ice and drinks,” Margie Shockley said.

Finishing welder María García noted that since the strike began the majority of Latinos in the plant have signed union cards.

Local 8285 vice president Lewis Graves said, “They hired a lot of Mexican workers and tried to turn them against us and each other. The Mexicans are good workers and the company thought they could use that against us to push the incentive plan. But Mexican workers rebelled and 25 of them got written up for low production. They joined the union. That’s why we are strong today.”

Tim Mabry, 30, who has worked two years in the shipping department, noted, “If you put welders on incentive who have to do so much to make the rate, shippers who pull those orders will basically be put on incentive too.”

One young Black worker who asked that his name be omitted, said, “I hope the company knows that we are not budging. This struggle is not just about fighting off a concession contract, but also about regaining some of what we lost in previous contracts.”

There are several demands along those lines being discussed on the picket line. One is for resumption of plant-wide seniority. Some years ago the company instituted departmental seniority, which gives the company a freer hand in layoffs and job placement. Another complaint from many strikers is the company’s sick-day policy. “The company does not honor sick days if it’s not for chronic illnesses,” Mabry told reporters. “If you get pneumonia and have to take a couple of weeks off, you can be terminated because it’s a curable disease.”

One victory was the reinstatement of Steve Yancy, a machine operator who has seven years at the plant. “I was fired because I was a union representative filing grievances against racial discrimination. The supervisor claims that I refused to obey a direct order,” he said. The termination took place late last year. Yancy was on the picket line from day one. The union won his reinstatement into the second week of the strike.

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The difference a revolution makes: textile factories in the U.S. and Cuba

March 25, 2002

BY BRIAN TAYLOR 
SANTA CLARA, Cuba–During a tour of a half dozen cities in central Cuba by a team of volunteers expanding the circulation of Pathfinder’s newly published book From the Escambray to the Congo, by Víctor Dreke, we had an opportunity to visit a large textile mill here on February 18. The “Desembarco del Granma” (Landing of the Granma) factory complex, which also encompasses a sewing factory, produces not only the textiles themselves but a range of finished products, including uniforms for the Revolutionary Armed Forces and others.

Having been a textile worker myself for a year and having experienced the accelerated “productivity” drive of mills throughout the South of the United States, I was nearly blown away by how much better the conditions are for textile workers in Cuba.

In the United States, many textile workers work 12-hour shifts, three to five days a week. This extended workday was widely imposed over the last two years as part of the capitalist bosses’ stepped-up drive for profits. Supposedly you work three days one week and four the next, to total 84 hours in two weeks. But many workers, unable to live off those wages, “voluntarily” work an extra day or two each week. This is especially true for immigrant workers who, in addition to trying to cover their own living expenses, often send sizable portions of their checks back to their families in their countries of origin.

Workers at the Cuban plant I visited normally work an eight-hour day, five days a week. Currently they are working two six-hour shifts in order to reduce electrical consumption–6:00 a.m. to noon and noon to 6:00 p.m., with a 15-minute break.

At the plant where I worked there was no set lunch break. Workers are paid according to how much they produce, so those who are not fast or need extra money feel pressure not to take a lunch break at all, or to take a very short one. These conditions are common.

Layoffs have been sweeping the textile industry throughout the South. The plant where I worked laid off more than 50 workers in the winding department, in a plant of roughly 300.

In Cuba if there is no work, you don’t simply get thrown into the streets. Workers who are “temporarily laid off”–due to lack of raw materials, machinery, breakdowns, or similar causes–maintain their jobs and continue to receive their wages during the time that production is interrupted.

If your job is eliminated altogether due to restructuring of the enterprise, you are considered an “available” worker and your employer, working together with the union, is responsible for retraining you for another job in the same factory. If there are no jobs in that plant, you are given training and offered work in another factory, whether in that industry or a different one. While being trained and relocated, the factory pays you one month at full salary and up to three years at 60 percent of your previous wage.

Tending up to 18 machines in U.S. mill 
In the textile mill where I worked, I was a “doffer,” a very physically demanding job the way U.S. bosses organize it. I was responsible for tending 12–18 machines where yarn gets spun onto little hollow tubes called bobbins. When the tubes are full you have to “doff” them, that is, take a cart and zoom down the machine removing full bobbins and replacing them with empty ones. Each machine has as many as 120 bobbins.

In contrast, workers in the plant in Santa Clara are responsible for tending only five machines, and the demanding doffing process is almost completely automated! The winding department has about eight machines to a worker. And the pace workers keep in the factory here is steady but less physically exhausting than in the capitalist world.

In a textile mill, cotton dust is a particular hazard to workers’ health. It can cause “brown lung,” a progressively debilitating and sometimes fatal respiratory illness. The factory I visited here was well ventilated, including in the doffing department, which is usually the most dusty. At the plant where I worked it was so dusty that a short stint left you covered with white fuzz, eyelashes and all. Workers at the Cuba plant had little or no dust on their clothes at the end of the day.

Most plants I am familiar with in the United States have a doctor present–at least from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.–who runs breathing tests on workers a couple of times a year. They are also supposed to take air dust samples regularly. The role of the company doctors, however, is to help the bosses cover up the unsafe working conditions, get injured or ill workers back on the job as quickly as possible whether they are well or not, and undercut workers’ efforts to hold the bosses responsible for injuries on the job or demand improvements in conditions.

In the Santa Clara plant, as in all Cuban workplaces, there is a doctor and nurse, available at all times. They do regular tests to monitor dust levels and prevent lung damage. Their main concern is the health needs of the workers.

After a 12-hour shift at the plant where I worked, you don’t have much time for anything except what’s necessary to sleep and prepare for the next day. Life is especially challenging for single mothers, who struggle finding and paying for child care. Other tasks of everyday life become more difficult, too.

The Desembarco del Granma textile factory has a child-care facility, a hairdresser, a bank, bicycle and TV repair shops, and other similar services. The factory also organizes transportation to pick up the workers near their homes–24 different routes! Other mills and factories in Cuba make similar arrangements to help meet the needs of workers.

It takes a revolution 
How is all this possible?

More than 40 years ago working people in Cuba carried out a successful revolution. Led by the July 26 Movement and the Rebel Army under the direction of Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro, Ernesto Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, and others, they took power from U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista and brought into being a workers and farmers government. They mobilized their collective force and began carrying out deep-going political and social measures to begin to reverse the social and economic devastation created by the system of imperialist domination and capitalist exploitation that prevailed before the revolution.

They expropriated the great landed estates and guaranteed land to every working farmer. They nationalized the factories and began producing to meet the needs of the Cuban people, not to maintain profits for a wealthy handful of families. And in so doing they earned the undying wrath of the U.S. government, which to this day is trying to roll back the revolutionary gains of the Cuban people.

In the United States and around the capitalist world, workers and farmers are always hit the hardest by any economic crisis. We are discounted by the ruling rich, who throughout the roaring nineties boasted of an economic boom while most of us were figuring out how to pay the gas bill.

In socialist Cuba, however, where political and economic power is in the hands of working people, the natural resources, the organization of labor, and the creativity of women and men throughout society are directed to meet different class interests.

The people of Cuba, too, are the victims of a world capitalist market they cannot escape from, and a brutal economic war directed at them by the U.S. government. But the revolutionary government in Cuba relies on workers and farmers acting together to open a road out of the economic crisis imposed on them and implements policies to minimize its toll on working people.

Brian Taylor is a coal miner and member of United Mine Workers of America Local 2133 in Alabama. 

Black Farmers in Alabama press fight for land

 May 4, 2004 

Black farmers in Alabama press fight for land

BY BRIAN TAYLOR
AND SUSAN LAMONT 

LINDEN, Alabama—“What do we want?—Our money!” chanted a standing-room-only crowd at an April 5 meeting here sponsored by the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association, Inc. (BFAA, Inc.). The event drew farmers and supporters from counties across western Alabama to discuss how to win implementation of a 1999 consent decree between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and farmers who had filed a class-action lawsuit against the government for its racist lending practices and other policies.

BFAA, Inc., president Tom Burrell reviewed the history of this struggle, which won agreement from the government to reimburse farmers and their families in the Pigford v. Glickman case. In the 1999 settlement of the lawsuit—which was backed by the mobilization of thousands of farmers and their supporters in protests, meetings, and marches—the USDA admitted to a pattern of discrimination against Black farmers in lending practices and other services, causing many to lose their land.

The number of Black farmers in the United States fell from 900,000 in 1920 to 18,000 in 1998, the year before the consent decree was signed. In 1992, Blacks owned 1 percent of the farmland in the country, down from 14 percent in 1920.

The government agreed that if farmers met a minimum set of filing requirements they would receive $50,000 tax-free in compensation. This filing process, however, became an obstacle to many and thousands of farmers were denied their claims. Only 13,000 of the 22,000 who applied received payments of any kind, said Burrell, and only about $500 million of the money allocated for reimbursement has been used. The government “has only paid 13,000 folks, but has the money to pay another 50,000,” he said.

The five-year statute of limitation placed on those wishing to file claims against the government expired the week following this farmers meeting.

“Most farmers, we are finding out, were not aware of the lawsuit, did not have time to apply by the deadline, or simply did not believe it was true” that the government was paying farmers, Burrell said. He explained that three categories of people eligible to apply for reimbursement did not know they could. This includes people who attempted to farm whether they succeeded or not, and their descendents. Leaders of BFAA, Inc., said the next step in the fight was to ask the courts for an extension of the deadline to allow for more applications to be filed. Farmers at the meeting seeking to file a claim were asked to fill out petition and questionnaire that would be used to make an argument for the extension. “Don’t let anyone make you believe you are not entitled to your money!” said Burrell.

Farmers Rally in D.C., renew struggle for land

December 27, 1999

Farmers rally in D.C., renew struggle for land  

BY BRIAN TAYLOR
WASHINGTON, D.C.—”When we started this fight it was not about money, it was about justice,” said Jacob Lipscomb, a hay and cattle farmer from Nottoway, Virginia. Lipscomb was one of the original farmers who initiated a class-action suit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for racist discrimination. He was one of nearly 100 farmers and their supporters from a dozen states across the country who rallied here December 13 at Lafayette Park. The upbeat mood of the protesters in the cold, late-morning drizzle exemplified their determination.

Meeting after the rally, the farmers called actions for January 17 in Atlanta and in late February here in the capital to turn up the heat in their fight to hold onto and win back their land.

More than eight months after the farmers forced the government to admit to its racist discrimination and agree to pay a miserly minimum of $50,000 each to farmers who were mistreated by the USDA, the vast majority of the farmers involved in the case haven’t seen a dime.

Farmers were supposed to be able to apply for compensation and relief under two “tracks” in the consent decree agreement. Under Track A farmers were all but promised a $50,000 settlement, along with relief from USDA debts, after “substantial” evidence of discrimination is presented. Track B in theory allows farmers to seek a larger cash settlement, but requires more documentation. “I’ve never heard of someone being found guilty in court,” only to have the plaintiff have to go and reestablish their guilt, said Gary Grant, president of the Black Farmers and Agriculturists Association (BFAA), referring to the evidence farmers are required to gather to press a claim under either track.

The settlement was a maneuver by the government to try to cut off the growing radicalization among a layer of farmers who are Black. But most farmers have heard of no payments being issued by the government. To the contrary, a number of farmers’ claims are being rejected, sparking renewed resistance among this vanguard layer among those who cultivate the land.

So far there have been more than 40,000 requests for claim packages, but farmers have only returned 18,000. One reason for this is the inadequate legal assistance provided by the state to help farmers file their claims.

Hundreds of farmers have taken off work, either from the farm or a farm-sustaining job, and traveled hundreds of miles to attend sessions with lawyers assigned to help farmers submit their claim packages, only to be turned away at the end of the day with no council and told to show up for the next session.

Farmers attending a strategy session after the December 13 action agreed to push for a six-month extension of the deadline to file claims under the consent decree.

No money and no land: nothing is settled

Al Piries, farmers’ initial lawyer, crafted the consent decree and pitched Track A as a surefire way to get some money from the government. He has since lauded the deal as effective, claiming that there will be a 70 percent approval rate of the 18,000 who have filed. Farmers at the post-protest meeting agreed to probe removing Piries as their lawyer.

Articles in the big-business press, including the New York Times and Washington Post, have also painted a picture of a settled fight. Jet magazine ran an article in its December 13 issue titled, “Black Farmers Receive Settlement Checks in Class-Action Lawsuit.” “Checks for $50,000 each have gone to more than 2,400 Black farmers,” the article begins. Later it states, “The settlement, announced in April ended the class-action lawsuit…” Readers of that article could easily come away thinking the government is making good on its agreement.

“When we started [the fight] in 1996, it took action after action before people began to pay attention,” said Grant. “We have to go back doing actions to let people know that this has not been settled.”

“Many think we have been paid and it’s all over with,” Alvin Walker from Eatonton, Georgia, commented. Walker, who has not received a penny under the consent decree, was a diary farmer for nearly 10 years. He lost his farm in 1996 due to the USDA’s discriminatory loan practices. “The deal was a flop, like many things have been a flop for Black farmers,” he declared.

James Lyle a former hog farmer in Prince Edwards County, Virginia, who lost his farm in 1982, said that he heard of 8 to 10 people in his area who received some moneys from the claim. None of them, he pointed out, currently farm or own land.

Earl Davis, president of the Oklahoma chapter of BFAA, explained, “Any Black farmer with a larger amount of land is being turned down [under Track A] and those with very small farms or who don’t farm anymore are getting the $50,000. Under Track A you not only get $50,000, but you also have access to $100,000 worth of credit,” in addition to having government debt removed, he stated. “Farmers with no land don’t qualify for the additional $100,000. Larger farmers do. So they prefer to give the landless farmer $50,000 and not have to pay any credit.”

‘To win we must work together’

“For far too long we have let the government divide and conquer,” said John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) standing beside Grant in Lafayette Park. Grant and Boyd issued a joint call for the December 13 action on behalf of BFAA and NBFA. “The only way we can change” the policies of the USDA towards the farmers “is to work together,” said Boyd.

The night before the December 13 action, at a pre-protest meeting the mood was anxious and ready to move into the next stage of the fight. Farmers were glad to see each other and fellow fighters again. “I knew you’d be back,” was a common refrain between hardy handshakes and embraces.

In another sign of this growing sentiment to advance the struggle of farmers, several weeks before a BFAA fund-raising banquet was held in Fort Valley, Georgia, that drew more than 200 farmers and supporters.

The action called by BFAA and NBFA attracted a number of people who see themselves as part of this struggle. Among them is farmer Anna Marie Codario from New Jersey who is Italian-American and has been fighting for years to hold onto her land. “We have always supported the Black farmers. We are in the same boat,” Codario said, referring to herself, Mary Visconti, and Mary Ordille, also farmers from New Jersey who participated in the rally. “We wanted the Black farmers to know we as women farmers are suffering the same penalties as they are. If it hadn’t been for the Black farmers, our property would have already been sold to the highest bidder. Because we fought, the government had to hold our land in inventory. Their fight made us aware that we could fight.

“We didn’t find out about the Sunday night meeting until the day before, so we threw some clothes in a bag and hopped on the train. We didn’t care if it rained or not, we were ready,” Codario added. She knows a few other people who would be interested in setting up a BFAA chapter in New Jersey.

Ordille lives in Hammonton, New Jersey. “My farm was between an FSA [Farm Services Agency] member and his brother,” Ordille said. “They wanted my land. From the minute I walked into their offices for a loan in 1982 it’s been hell for the past 17 years.” She applied for a $185,000 loan, and paid more than $380,000 on it. “And they still wanted $97,000 more. That’s $480,000!” She finally had to move to sell the land herself, before the government could force a sale for less money.

Nate Paulsen, a 19-year-old student from the University of Minnesota, came to join the action. “I feel like their cause needs to be given more voice. Not enough people understand the farmer’s fight is of vital importance to us,” he said. “I’m a relative newcomer to these issues. I’ve never taken time before to talk to farmers, really. That’s also why I’m here—to learn more about this fight.”

Injustices against farmers continue

The government has not stopped its discriminatory practices towards the farmers. Oliver Williams raises cattle and boar meat goats in Spencer, Oklahoma. He bought several head of cattle in 1965. From 1972 to today the government has refused to grant him a loan. Williams joined BFAA “about a year ago.”

Teresa Simmons a 38-year-old BFAA member in Rockwall, Texas, applied for a loan to start a farm in 1993. She wanted to raise cows and horses. “When I first tried to apply, the USDA didn’t even want to give me an application.” Then they told her she could only get a loan if her credit was good. When the credit check showed she was in good shape, they told her they had no money set aside for farm loans. They began doing illegal credit checks. She took the USDA to court and won. “They tried to make me settle for a house.” It took 11 months for the USDA carry out the court order and begin building her house, all the while they tried to wiggle out of it.

Now Simmons helps her father, James Phillips, in his fight. “He used to raise corn and wheat and other cow feed. In the early ’90s they would not qualify him for disaster loans.” He has been unable to farm ever since.

Farmers discuss, debate road forward

At the meeting following the action farmers discussed the next steps of their fight. The common agreement among the all those present was to call actions for January 17 in Atlanta and for late February in Washington, D.C.

Several participants raised questions that sparked debate. L.C. Cooper, from North Carolina, began by pointing out that the Democratic Party politicians have done nothing for farmers. He then argued that Republican senator Trent Lott and former U.S. congressman Newt Gingrich did the most for the Black farmers in their suit.

Ridgely Mohammed talked about starting a “third force…not a third party” who’s aim would be to use the “power of the Black vote” to persuade the two main capitalist parties to listen to the farmers’ demands. He also drew on the economic nationalist anti-WTO protests in Seattle, which he said he participated in, to argue that the biggest threat to farmers is Asian capitalists who he said scope out Black farms and target them to buy up.

“We are going to win [support] from one of the parties, but what are we winning?” asked one farmer, dubious about the merit of their support. “That $50,000 is nothing.”

“Neither the Democratic or Republican parties care what happens to farmers,” remarked James Harris, a member of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees from Atlanta. “The most powerful thing farmers can do is what has been done today, protesting in the streets. The most important thing in my opinion to do today is to concretize the dates for the January and February protest actions.”

One farmer, Rudell Lee, from Oklahoma spoke after that, reiterating the need to call actions right away. He said discussion about a “Million Family March” and other lobbying activities was fine, but “I want my land!” The actions, he said, are the most important. “We gotta get it done.”

The successful action December 13 is part of a growing resistance among small farmers as a whole. Cranberry farmers in Carver, Massachusetts, who are fighting against falling prices; farmers across eastern North Carolina who still have not been aided after the flood disaster earlier this year; Native American farmers who have just launched a class-action suit against the government for its well-known discriminatory practices against oppressed nationalities; and many others from landless rural workers in Brazil to farmers across Europe are all potential allies in the coming battles against the common exploiter—the capitalist class.

Alvin Walker summed it up. “The working class along with the farming class are allies. The only thing we haven’t done is to find our common ground. The government is taking money from all of us. The workers and the small farmers are the same. We are the power. You can vote or whatever, but we are the power.

“It used to be that if a farmer was in trouble and was going to loose their land we would just stand by…” Pausing for a second with a gaze of confidence and determination, Walker concluded, “But that has changed.”

Still Hungry

By Brian Taylor

“The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1” picks up after Katniss (played by Jennifer Lawrence) destroys the simultaneously primitive and futuristic games. She awakens to see the retaliatory destruction of her home district and the urgent request for her to be the heroic symbol to spur a general uprising that is brewing. Heavy on her mind is the fate of Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) who was left behind to the mercy of the Capitol.

Still of Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014)  (Photo: Lionsgate)
Still of Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) (Photo: Lionsgate)

As someone who has enjoyed the previous installments of this series, “Mocking Jay Part 1” was a let down. A very slow and predictable beginning set the stage for what was a bland 123 minutes. “What made the movie bland?” you might ask.

Firstly, the movie — apart from one memorable scene — contained very little actual action. At least that is how it felt as I drove home trying to make sense of my sentiments.

Secondly, I felt no bond or connection to any of the characters this time. We are given very little to “care about” as it pertains to the individuals in the movie. Perhaps this is due to there being no big physical tribulations shown.

I really wanted this to be a better movie. I will, reluctantly, be back for the next one. Hardcore fans will be fine with it.

An hour and a half into the film, one woman (not yelling, but gasping to herself) said, “when will this be over?” I couldn’t help but exhale slowly in agreement.

Unexpected rise to Cap fandom

Brian Taylor

Marvel has taken one of my least favorite of it’s characters and made a must-see movie event with Captian America: The Winter Soldier. Clever and well-written character dialogue meet crisp hand-to-hand combat sequences and seamless special effects as Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans) searches for his place as Captain in today’s America. (continued)

Supporting cast is very solid with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Anthony Mackie as Falcon, and catch phrase king Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. There is a grit to this film that makes it very appealing. You get a rare glimpse (one would imagine, if thrust into the Marvel world) at the mortal side of some key characters.

What’s just as engaging to watch as a troubled hero? A troubled villain, of course. When the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is revealed, the plot gets richer. Far from the “Go America, Go” movie I thought this would be, the film contains some real kernels of national introspection. I found my emotions rising and falling with this movie. Smiling when cued to due so, laughing at moments set aside for it, and rooting for the best side of humanity. That — with me — is not the easiest of feats.

RoboCop 2014: Target not quite acquired

BY BRIAN TAYLOR

Ever go to a themeless potluck dinner? There’s good food, gross food, multiple this, and no that. This was my experience with the 2014 reboot of RoboCop. Parts were  interesting and entertaining, but in the end I felt somehow short of a meal.

Joel Kinnaman and Abbie Cornish in "RoboCop." (2014 Kerry Hayes / Sony Pictures)
Joel Kinnaman and Abbie Cornish in “RoboCop.” (2014 Kerry Hayes / Sony Pictures)

Set in 2028, military and technological giant Omnicorp has designed robots to police the world; the world abroad, that is. Political red tape has prevented storm troopers from landing inside the United States. In comes pesky and soon-to-be-sent to the brink of death cop Alex Murphy (played by actor, Joel Kinnaman). Almost snubbed out by criminal elements, he is saved (salvaged?) by Omnicorp and marketed an empathetic, robotic policing option for the U.S.

The film  follows a similar plot line as its 1987 counterpart and Kinnaman delivers an impressive roll as Murphy. I “like” Alex Murphy as acted by Kinnaman. But somehow, I never develop a vested interest in him like I did in the 1987 movie. I don’t feel the 2014 movie developed any of the characters very well. Neither did they really build up an evil head honcho. The sequence of the movie was very choppy and too frequently had me asking, “why did they just do that?”

Samuel Jackson — one of my favorite actors to watch, whether his roles are great or terrible — plays an over-the-top, pro-military force, newscaster that acts somewhat like a narrator/plot climatologist. While I enjoyed his presence as a Jackson fan, I feel the frequency of his appearances and extreme voiced opinion was put there because directors couldn’t trust us to figure out the messages.

“But at least they paid homage to some of the more memorable scenes and one-liners we loved so much, right?” Nope. Every attempt to tip the hat to the 1987 version was a robo-fail.

Most viewers will be just fine to stream this one in six to eight months.

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